There are different types of warrants. Learn what happens when a search warrant is issued and what procedures must be followed to execute one.
What is a search warrant? A search warrant is a legal document that gives the police officer or officers the official right to search and enter a premise. These warrants are signed by a judge and allow the search of a definite location.
How search warrants are obtained by police
A judge issues the warrant to the police. But this is the end result. First, the police have to provide enough evidence to a judge that there is enough probable cause that illegal activities are happening at a certain place. Police provide this information in a written format called an affidavit. The information is collected by the officer, witnesses, or informants that criminal activity is happening. Once the judge sees this and agrees that there is enough probable cause, he or she then issues the search warrant to the officer.
What is an Affidavit?
In its simplest form, an affidavit is facts that are written within a statement. These facts that a person makes within the statement are sworn to be true. It has legal language that states if the statements are not true prosecution for perjury will happen. Typically for the affidavit to be valid it must be sworn to the statement from the affiant to an authorized person. The authorized person can be a county clerk or a notary public.
The police have a search warrant what can they take?
The warrant will allow only the place and what is specified in terms of what property can be taken within the search warrant. Let’s use drugs as an example. There is a warrant issued to search a trailer on the property to look for cocaine. This gives the officers the right to search the trailer for cocaine, not the house on the property.
It also states that the search warrant is for cocaine, so the officer’s arent looking for weapons. However, if they come across weapons they can still seize these types of things and often do when it pertains to crime or other illegal substances.
Sames holds true for a person. If the search warrant states to search John then that’s who they will search. Now, if the officer has probable cause to search others that are with John then at the scene.
Are warrants always necessary to make a search?
The answer to this is no, a warrant is not always necessary to get in order for law enforcement to search you or a location.
Search by concent
Search by concent is when you give the officer or law enforcement agent concent to search you, your vehicle, or your property.
Search when your first arrested
When someone gets arrested the officer will perform a search on that person for weapons and any other possible evidence.
Search can happen in an emergency situation
If the situation is an emergency and evidence can be destroyed or moved before an actual search warrant can be issued then a search can happen without a warrant. Same will hold true if a person enters private property when officers are in chase. The officer will not need a warrant to enter that property.
Because automobiles can move quickly an officer that feels like there is evidence of a crime within that vehicle a search warrant is not needed. An example would be if officer things that someone is smuggling people over the border he or she would not be allowed to look in the glove box of the car as this would not be a place someone could hide.
How long does a search warrant last?
10 days. This is the time generally that the police are given to use the warrant once issued. Also unless there are exigent circumstances that are in place a search warrant must be executed between the times of 7 am and 10 pm. With that said if the police can show enough evidence that either important evidence can be destroyed on a case or even that a potential suspect may flee then a judge could authorize a search warrant to be used and executed at night.
Police are at your home and announce they have a search warrant, what should you do?
Generally, the police will knock and announce themselves and say they have a search warrant. Because of this, you have the right to ask to see the warrant, and you really should do this. Law enforcement cannot search your home unless they:
- Have your permission
- Have a search warrant
If a warrant is present you should look at it so that it has the proper information. This would include:
- Your name
- Judges name
- Date of warrant
- Description of what is to be searched and items being searched for
- Agency authorized in conducting such a search
If you look at the warrant and notice that it does not have this information it may not be a valid warrant. If the warrant is not valid you do not need to let them in.
Can you find warrants online?
Yes, you can. If you know what state and county that the warrant has been issued them you can either contact the police within that county and ask them directly, or you can contact the County court of clerks
You can also use a search service to run a name through federal, and state databases to find all types of public record data, including warrants. This is a great tool to find not only warrant information but all types of other criminal and arrest data.